By MORGAN WINSOR, DAVID CAPLAN, MATT FOSTER, DOMINICK PROTO
Jan 7, 2017, 5:07 PM ET
FT LAUDERDALE (AP) -- The man suspected of opening fire in a baggage claim area of a Florida airport Friday, killing five people and wounding eight, appears to have gone to Fort Lauderdale "to carry out this horrific attack," the FBI said.
But investigators have found "no specific reason" why the suspect, identified as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, chose the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. They have also yet to determine a motive for the shooting, which took place Friday afternoon just before 1 p.m. ET in the baggage claim at Terminal 2, according to George Piro, special agent in charge of the FBI's Miami office.
"Indications are that he came here to carry out this horrific attack," Piro said at a press conference Saturday morning. "We have not identified any triggers that would have caused this attack. We're pursuing all angles on what prompted him to carry out this horrific attack."
Senior law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation told ABC News that Santiago arrived Friday at the airport in Fort Lauderdale on a flight from Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he had connected from a flight from Anchorage, Alaska, that he boarded Thursday night.
It remains unclear why Santiago made the trip to Fort Lauderdale and investigators have not ruled out any motive, including terrorism, the FBI said.
Anchorage Airport Police and Fire officials told ABC News Santiago only checked one bag -- a hard case carrying his gun. TSA regulations allow guns to be checked into baggage if they are stored in a locked, hard-sided container that cannot be easily accessed.
"That is absolutely something that I think we need to revisit," U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida said at the press conference Saturday morning. "We have revisited our security measures at airports every time we’ve had a security breach.”
According to a Broward County officials, Santiago allegedly loaded the semi-automatic handgun in the bathroom at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and came out firing. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he fired "indiscriminately" at people in the airport.
In addition to those wounded initially amid the gunfire, dozens of others were injured after the incident. A total of 54 patients have been taken to Broward Health Medical Center since Friday's shooting. Of those 54, nine patients were admitted, six of them with gunshot wounds. As of Saturday afternoon, eight patients remain hospitalized at Broward Health Medical Center -- six are listed in good condition and two are in critical condition, the hospital said in a press release.
FBI special agent in charge Piro said law enforcement officials have identified the five victims and are in the process of notifying family members and loved ones. Their names have not been released.
According to authorities, Santiago did not try to take any hostages during the incident, nor did he make any statements while firing the weapon. The FBI said they are not aware of any incident on board the flight or at the baggage claim that might have triggered the shooting.
Law enforcement officials said Santiago was carrying military identification at the time of the incident. The suspect was apprehended and placed in federal custody. He was booked overnight at the Broward County Jail and is currently being held for murder, according to the Broward County Sheriff's Office.
Santiago will also face federal charges and will likely make his first court appearance Monday, FBI special agent in charge Piro said at the press conference Saturday.
More details are beginning to emerge about the suspected gunman. Santiago, who spent nine years in the military, was a combat engineer with the Alaska Army National Guard and left the military in August, according to Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, director of public affairs for the Alaska National Guard. He received a general discharge under honorable conditions at the rank of Private First Class.
Santiago joined the Puerto Rico National Guard in December 2007 and was deployed to Iraq from April 2010 to February 2011. Along the way, he earned a number of awards, including the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal, according to his service record.
A senior law enforcement official told ABC News that Santiago walked into the FBI's Anchorage field office in November last year after his discharge from the military and said he was under mind control by a U.S. intelligence agency. The official said he appeared incoherent and agitated, saying the U.S. government was trying to force him to watch ISIS videos.
The official said Santiago stated he didn't want to hurt anyone. Still, the FBI contacted local law enforcement, which, out of caution, had him medically evaluated. The FBI closed the probe after reviewing databases and interviewing family, the official told ABC News.